Whether you’re a serious shopper, a tag-along partner or a fan of all things eclectic, you’re bound to find something to like on Hazenstraat, dubbed Amsterdam’s Tiende Straatje (Tenth Street) by shopkeepers eager to extend the adjacent Nine Streets shoppers’ paradise to include one more straat.
On this cobbled lane in Amsterdam’s trendy Jordaan, even casual browsers should enjoy visiting the specialty stores, sidewalk cafés, designer boutiques and artist studios in this retail mecca beyond crowded Leidsestraat, commercial Kalverstraat, snooty P.C. Hoofstraat and the popular Negen Straatjes (literally, Nine Little Streets).
Look up on the corner of Hazenstraat and Lauriergracht to discover this mini-mosaic installed by French urban artist Invader in 2000.
Let’s begin at an historic corner—Hazenstraat and Lauriergracht, where French urban artist Invader installed one of 26 mini-mosaics in Amsterdam in the summer of 2000. Inspired by characters in Space Invaders and other video games from the ’80s, the pixelated aliens are constructed of small, glossy tiles. This one is slightly damaged but still sports four bright colors. It’s among 11 surviving pieces in Amsterdam of the most recognizable street art of the last decade. More can be uncovered in 42 other major cities worldwide.
Down the street, a clothes rack outside ‘t Haasje seduces me into yet another source for contemporary women’s fashion and accessories. With brands like Chili Pepper, Studio Z and Rimini, this one has attracted fashionistas for more than 30 years.
Colorful dogs, children and happy women gaze from Joep Buijs’ studio, inviting interaction with the artist.
I spot the colorful bakfiets of artist Joep Buijs outside his gallery and admire bold works-in-progress in the window. Brilliantly colored dogs, his daughter Lente and an assortment of happy women gaze back at me. Like an interactive theater, they invite connection with the artist, which Joep encourages with his open-door policy.
I backtrack to Olivaria, the oldest olive specialty shop in the Netherlands. Inside, delicacies from Greece, Spain, Portugal, France and Italy rise like a translucent cathedral around owner Ico van Buuren. Since 1995, the Dutchman has presided over an edible realm that now features more than 50 varieties of olive oil, plus imported vinegar, mustard, cheese, sausage, pasta, olives and other Mediterranean delights.
A tasting table tempts me so I lift a chunk of bread, dip it into a golden oil from Spain and savor a nutty, fruity flavor like nothing I’ve experienced in grocery store brands. Like all premium oils in the shop, this one comes from a small cultivator Ico has met on his travels, which take him to harvests throughout Europe. At €10, it’s not much more than what I’d pay at a supermarket. But I opt to spend €16 on a bottle of Limoncello for some later indulgence.
I succumb to the munchies at Chocolátl, the “child” of Erik and Leslie Spande, formerly of Portland, OR. The idea for their chocoholic’s Nirvana came to the couple after they attended a chocolate fest in Ashland, OR in 2003. Through its seven-year “gestation,” Erik worked as a chef/caterer and buyer of specialty foods and beverages while Leslie pursued a career in product development.
In 2010, Chocolátl was born—a chocolate boutique featuring artisanal cocoa confections crafted in small batches using only the finest ingredients. On a previous visit, Erik regaled me about the taste and textural differences of cacao beans from African, South American and European countries. On this one, I learn the distinction between chocolate makers and more rarefied chocolatiers from Leslie.
American Erik Spande and his wife founded Chocolátl, a chocoholic’s Nirvana on Hazenstraat.
“A chocolate maker is a mainstream company that mass produces its product,” she explains. Being American, visions of Hershey’s and See’s dance in my head. “A chocolatier oversees everything from bean selection to chocolate production and the addition of cream, berries, nuts, spices or other ingredients”―essentially a bean-to-bar artisan, like a winemaker who grows his own grapes.
With a bit of a buzz, I duck into Cats ‘n Things to indulge my fondness for all things feline. Cicero, the giant Birman who reigns over the place, sleeps in a kitty couch in the window. Gracia and Sharon, two other fluffy Birmans who preside over Ina van Berkum’s boutique, are upstairs in her apartment. The passionate cat lover, judge and former breeder stocks a quirky selection of cat art by Dutch artists, feline-inspired accessories and quality products for fussy felines and their doting owners.
Although billed as a gay/lesbian lair, Saarein welcomes all at its lively bar.
It’s 17:00, time for Happy Hour at Saarein. Opened in 1978 as a place for all “queer minded people,” the three-level bruine kroegen (brown cafe) welcomes all with an ever-changing tapas menu, well-stocked bar, beer on tap and windows overlooking the passing crowd. The place jumps on Friday nights, when Pink Radio broadcasts from the basement. I grab a stool, sip on a Jaegermeister and watch a gaggle of girls play pool.
Near the end of Hazenstraat, La Festa Bed & Breakfast, a small establishment designed by a Dutch architect, offers accommodations. While it looks more like a pizzeria than a hostelry, two stylish upstairs rooms are available at competitive rates. The street-level restaurant serves pizza, pastas and other Italian specialties. For more upscale dining, neighboring ‘t Stuivertje serves a continental menu starring such Dutch favorites as tongue-fish, chicken livers and spare ribs. Most éntrées are under €20 at the homey bistro, which seats about 40.
I retrace my steps through the Jordaan, window shopping on Hazenstraat in the opposite direction. Even if it’s beyond the popular Nine Streets, Amsterdam’s Tiende Straatje will always be a ten in my book.